What is HIV?
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a lentivirus that destroys specific immune cells to prevent disease and infection in the human body. These vital immune cells are known as CD4+ or T-Cells. The virus can be maintained with powerful antiviral medications that slow down the destruction of the immune system, improve the day-to-day health of those afflicted with HIV, and potentially reduce any chance of transmission to others.
HIV is not the same as AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) – AIDS is the later stage of the HIV infection in where the immune system is already damaged and cannot prevent infection or disease. Those who die of AIDS do not die specifically of AIDS – more often than not, they die from the inability to fight off basic illnesses, such as a cold.
Effects of Untreated HIV?
If HIV is left untreated by not using antiretroviral drugs, the virus moves throughout and establishes itself in the body. Within a few weeks or months, the immune system develops antibodies against the virus. The infection then enters a chronic phase. During this time, a person may not exhibit any symptoms. The untreated HIV infection eventually progresses until the immune system is too weak to defend against any form of infection, no matter how mild. This stage is called AIDS.
However, the course of HIV infection is not always a death sentence. In addition to preventing life-threatening illnesses from developing, anti-HIV medication can halt the progress of disease and allow the immune system to rebuild itself.
How do I know if I have HIV?
Typically, it takes one to two months after the initial infection for HIV to show itself through symptoms. Up to 90% of those infected with HIV begin suffering from flu-like symptoms. These flu-like symptoms are collectively known as acute retroviral syndrome (ARS) and are the body’s natural response to the HIV infection. HIV tends to go undiagnosed because the sufferer mistakes their symptoms for other illnesses, the most common being the flu.
Symptoms of ARS include:
- Swollen glands in the armpit, neck, and groin
- Sore throat
- Night sweats
- Muscle and joint pain
Don’t Wait for Symptoms – Get Tested Now
You should get an STD test even if you are not showing any symptoms. Many avoid getting tested because they are not exhibiting any symptoms or because their symptom overlap with/are mistaken for other existing illnesses. This can lead to spreading the STD, and if left untreated, can result in severe health risks or even death. A untreated STD can never just go away on their own – only with proper treatment. If you are unsure as to whether your symptoms are the result of an STD, please visit Symptoms for more information.
Why You Should Get Tested
Sexually transmitted diseases are one of the most overwhelming yet under-recognized health problems in the United States. Even though it is recommended to get tested every three months when you’re sexually active, the stigma surrounding STD testing makes it a sensitive subject instead of a common check-up.
Per the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections occur every year and approximately 25% of Americans have some form of an incurable STD. To make matters worse, most STDs won’t display symptoms at first or will even display symptoms that can be mistaken for another illness, such as a yeast infection or the flu. Instead, those that are infected will remain completely unaware of their status, leading to them spreading the infection to others and not getting treatment until it is too late.
It’s no wonder that for Herpes alone, 85% of people who are infected don’t even know they have it. Chlamydia, one of the most common and curable STDs, will often not display symptoms until it is too late. As a result, 1 in 5 infected women will develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), resulting in reproductive issues and even infertility. Despite being the deadliest STD of all, 1 in 7 people who are infected with HIV do not realize that they are infected – their initial symptoms are usually shrugged off as the flu. Only until it is too late, when HIV turns into AIDS, do they realize that they are infected.
Long story short, not getting tested for STDs can be extremely dangerous as some STDs can have some life-threatening symptoms if they go untreated. STDs are usually stereotyped as a big joke – a mere annoyance, like an itch or burning sensation that just won’t go away. The truth is that untreated STDs can ruin more than just your physical health – it can ruin all of your life’s plans. Everything in your life can become tainted by an STD – having children, your relationships, even your life expectancy. The best cure is prevention, and the best way to prevent STDs is to get regularly checked.
At Private STD Screen, we believe in making STD testing readily accessible, striving for the utmost discretion, and delivering quick results. Our convenient checkout process makes buying a test a breeze. Just buy your test, go to a testing location near you, give your sample, and receive your results within a few days through our secure portal. No confusing paperwork, no long waits, and very discreet. Know your status today!